Scott, Michael ORCID logoORCID: (2019) SpaceChem. In: Learning, Education and Games, Volume Three: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond. ETC Press, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 389-393. ISBN TBC (In Press)

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Abstract / Summary

SpaceChem is a 2D logic puzzle game designed by Zach Barth. Players assume the role of a space-faring reactor engineer who is responsible for setting up new reactors across a series of planets. This involves challenging players to design processes that take sets of chemical compounds as inputs and converting them into specified forms as outputs. Although the game is themed around futuristic chemistry, its simplicity serves abstract and symbolic purposes. The core game mechanic centers upon algorithm design. As illustrated in Figure 1, players program the reactor using a visual drag-and-drop interface. Players drag instructions from the menu at the bottom of the screen, and place them onto the reactor grid, which is reminiscent of a top-down view of a claw crane arcade machine. The system deposits chemicals into the input areas (alpha and beta). So, when players start the reactor by selecting the play icon, the “waldos” (the claws that grab and drop the atoms, marked in red and blue) move around the reactor according to the instructions that they have placed in each cell. For example, the turn instructions allow players to define the path of each waldo. The grab/drop instruction makes the waldo pick up or deposit the chemical on that particular cell. As the game progresses, it introduces other reactor components that perform operations such as: bonding; sensing; teleporting; fusing; and fissioning. These activate when a waldo moves over a cell containing the corresponding instruction. Once all of the operations execute to produce the desired chemical, players must ensure that their program deposits the chemical into the designated output area (psi and omega).

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Computer Science, Information & General Works
Courses by Department: The Games Academy > Computing for Games
Depositing User: Michael Scott
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2019 11:10
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:25


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